Monday, June 1, 2020

Gambian Lawmakers Reject Motion on Extension of State of Public Emergency to 45 Days

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Gambian Lawmakers on Saturday 16th May 2020 rejected a motion for the extension of the State of Public Emergency to 45 days.

Gambia’s Justice Minister, Abubacarr Tambedou, while tabling the motion, reminded lawmakers that the motion for the first State of Public Emergency was passed on the 3rd April 2020, in response to the global threat (Coronavirus pandemic) to which the Gambia is vulnerable, as declared by the World Health Organization,.

He said: “On the 12th of May 2020, the rate of infection of the Coronavirus globally stood at four million people out of which 300,000 died. In Senegal within the same period, the rate of infection stood at over 1800 people with 19 deaths from the infection.”

“In the Gambia, our rate of infection has also increased to 23 and unfortunately, one died from the virus in the country. But we must not be complacent about this fact as COVID-19 continues to pose a clear and present danger to the Gambia and remains deadly”, he added.

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He stressed that the government needs to continue taking measures that will among other things break the chain of transmission, to prevent further spread of the virus and concurrently alleviate the consequences that the country may face.

He said the first 45 days extension expires on 18th May 2020, but the threat of COVID-19 continues to loom and that determination is needed now more than ever to break the chain of transmission of the virus.

He explained: “The forty five days resolution that was passed by the Legislature on 3rd April 2020, which extended the period of State of Public Emergency on 26th March 2020, will allow the government to continue to carry out its responsibilities towards the people of this country not only to save lives, but to balance the competing political, social and economic interests. We are confronted with these difficult times”.

Pursuant to section 5 of the Emergency Powers Act 1997, Justice Minister Tambadou further moved the Assembly to affirm restrictions on Open Markets and Shopping Areas Emergency Powers Regulations 2020( as amended), Essential Commodities Emergency Powers Regulations 2020(as amended), Restrictions on Public Transportation Emergency Powers Regulations 2020( as amended); Closure and Restrictions on Non-Essential Public Places Emergency Powers Regulations 2020, and Closure of Educational Institutions and Places of Worship Emergency Powers Regulations 2020.

The motion suffered a blow after the debate because the lawmakers did not agree on its approval, compelling the Speaker to put the motion to a vote. Out of 48 Members who voted, 23 voted for the adoption of the motion while 25 voted against it.

As it stands no specific extension period has been agreed upon by the lawmakers, even though the Special Committee renewed its recommendation for the state of public emergency to be extended to 21 days, to contain the further spread of COVID-19 in the Gambia, shortly after the vote on the motion for extra 45 days extension.

Sitting continues on Monday 18th May 2020 at the Legislative House in Banjul at 10:00 am prompt. Follow Foroyaa Newspaper for interventions of the deputies on the motion.

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